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Rackspace Now Lets Customers Build Private Clouds

Rackspace is a company synonymous with dedicated hosting and cloud computing services. While hosting and cloud services are different, the company's business model over the past 13 years has been predicated on customers using Rackspace's datacenters.

That has changed this week with the launch of Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition, an offering by which the company will help customers build clouds within their own datacenters. The debut of this new offering has been anticipated for some time.

The company launched Rackspace Cloud Builders back in March, a program aimed at providing training, education and certification to those who want to build clouds based on the OpenStack open source platform. Rackspace gained the capability to offer Cloud Builders from its acquisition of Anso Labs, a professional services firm that has helped several large organizations build OpenStack-based clouds.

In fact, the rationale behind Rackspace's decision to team up with NASA and create the OpenStack Project was to build an ecosystem that it hoped would give it an edge over Amazon Web Services and VMware. "Anyone who wants to build and run OpenStack clouds the way we do will have access to that technology," said Jim Curry, general manager of Rackspace Cloud Builders.

With this new private cloud offering, customers also will have the option of building their own OpenStack-based private clouds using a reference architecture published by Rackspace, which will offer optional remote administration. Alternatively, Rackspace is certifying its partners to build OpenStack-based private clouds for their customers. So far, Rackspace has certified Cloud Technology Partners (cloudTP), MomentumSI, and China's TeamSun.

The current hardware architecture is built on Cisco network switches and Dell servers, though Rackspace said it will add other options next year. Infrastructure automation and management vendors Opscode and RightScale also said they are supporting the new Rackspace private cloud offering.

Rackspace this week also upgraded its RackConnect service, which allows customers to securely link systems running in its public cloud with its managed hosting service. Launched a year ago, 10 percent of Rackspace customers are using RackConnect, said Toby Owen, senior manager of Rackspace Hybrid Cloud Product Solutions. "It has definitely moved from a niche offering to a mainstream capability for many of our customers," Owen said.

With the new release, Rackspace has added automation to RackConnect. For example, if a hosting customer needs more capacity, they can scale using the cloud service, Owen said. "We are trying to reduce the administrative burden and all the messiness around infrastructure provisioning and make it a lot more seamless from the customer perspective," he said.

Rackspace has also added a new user interface to the RackConnect portal, giving customers visibility to both their cloud and dedicated hosting environments and RackConnect itself. Also new in RackConnect is a network security policy interface for customers. With the new interface, customers can configure firewalls, both physical and cloud-based, on their own.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 11/09/2011 at 1:14 PM


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